Hillary Clinton’s acolytes in the press have been fighting hard to defend Hillary Clinton’s cavalier disregard for federal laws on record retention and here egregiously careless handling of top secret US information. Now that the State Department IG has pretty well burned down her “well, all previous Secretaries did it” excuse (yes, they did but the rules changed about the time Clinton was confirmed by the Senate) and the White House has admitted that she is part of a criminal investigation.
Now they are trying the old tu quoque attack on Donald Trump. Via USA Today: Trump was accused of destroying email evidence in lawsuit 10 years ago.
In 2006, when a judge ordered Donald Trump’s casino operation to hand over several years’ worth of emails, the answer surprised him: The Trump Organization routinely erased emails and had no records from 1996 to 2001. The defendants in a case that Trump brought said this amounted to destruction of evidence, a charge never resolved.
At that time, a Trump IT director testified that until 2001, executives in Trump Tower relied on personal email accounts using dial-up Internet services, despite the fact that Trump had launched a high-speed Internet provider in 1998 and announced he would wire his whole building with it. Another said Trump had no routine process for preserving emails before 2005.
Judge Jeffrey Streitfeld was stunned. “He has a house up in Palm Beach County listed for $125 million, but he doesn’t keep emails. That’s a tough one,” he said, according to transcripts obtained by USA TODAY. “If somebody starts to put forth as a fact something that doesn’t make any sense to me and causes me to have a concern about their credibility in the discovery process, that’s not a good direction to go, and I am really having a hard time with this.”
There are three parts to this.
First, Donald Trump was accused of destroying email. Fine. But it was never proven that he did destroy email and that, alone, separates him from Hillary Clinton.
Second, the records in question are from 1996-2001. Not from 2009-2013. That was a different era in regards to corporate and government use of email. The federal government did not require email be retained as a permanent record until 1995 so there is little reason to believe that a private corporation would be retaining email shortly thereafter unless it had a fetish for keeping records for opposing counsel to discover.
Third, no corporation had any legal duty to retain email records during the period in question:
Email retention policies were still evolving over the years covered by the Trump’s dealing with the Seminoles. At the time, companies had very little guidance on what electronic records they were supposed to keep, said Rae Cogar, a lawyer who used to chair the American Bar Association committee on electronic evidence. Cogar said when Congress passed the 2002 law known as Sarbanes-Oxley to combat securities fraud, “that was the start when people really started looking at how they were handling their information and electronic records.”
This also distinguishes him from Hillary Clinton. The Trump organization destroyed email until they were legally required to maintain them. Hillary Clinton evaded the built in retention mechanism of the State Department and destroyed email in violation of the law.
I am not a Donald Trump fan by any stretch of the imagination but there is plenty of real stuff to criticize this guy over without developing a bullsh** moral equivalency between corporate email that was not required to be retained and US government email which has to be retained and secrets which have to be safeguarded.